Children’s grief

About Grief

The loss of family and friends is a serious experience in a child’s life. Bereavement is said to have a significant effect on the child’s environment, human relationships, mental health, and subsequent developments such as character development. On the other hand, children have been found to be more resilient to bereavement than adults, provided they have sufficient support from others.


1.Grief reactions of children

It is said that a child’s expression of grief  is different from that of adults. Adults usually have very strong grief reactions months after bereavement and have it settle down over time. On the other hand, in the case of children, sadness is always present in the growth process and is expressed in different forms. For example, on birthdays, on special days with memories such as entrance to school, graduation, employment or marriage, they realize the fact that person is no longer here, causing feelings of sadness or loneliness. As a result, it is said to take years for a child to accept the death of an important person.



2.Various grief expressions

The grief response that appears in children varies, and some children show strong anxieties and sadness, while others play innocently or behave as if nothing had happened. Grief may also manifest itself physically (ex. anorexia, headaches, abdominal pain, etc.). Some children may behave more childish than their age, such as crying at night or sucking their fingers, while others may behave more mature than their age. Some school age children show poorer academic performance.


These “visible” behaviors are easy for adults to notice. But it is important to be mindful of the “invisible” feelings and potential emotions that may not be noticed so easily. Children six years of age or older may blame themselves for not preventing the death, which can lower their self-esteem.


Some adults do not relate the facts of a death to children or do not allow them to attend the funeral because they are worried about the children feeling sad. However, it is important that adults explain what happened using age appropriate language that the children can understand. Ask your children if they would like to attend the funeral, and give them the choices.


Children learn how to cope with sadness through adults. It is important for adults not to leave children outside, but to be supportive toward children working through their sadness.